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14 Feb, 2024 16:29

US spies behind ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy – report

The CIA asked its ‘Five Eyes’ allies to monitor Trump campaign aides, according to a new investigation
US spies behind ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy – report

The US intelligence community inappropriately used foreign allies to target Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign to set up the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy ahead of the 2016 election, according to a trio of investigative journalists.

Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi and Alex Gutentag – of ‘Twitter Files’ fame – published the first part of an investigation on Tuesday, in which they claim the so-called 'Five Eyes' were operationalized against Trump staffers, citing anonymous sources close to the House Intelligence Committee. 

According to their report, President Barack Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, had sent America’s partners – the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – a list of 26 Trump associates to target with data collection, misinformation and manipulation.

The Russiagate conspiracy involved multiple failures across western media networks to critically assess US intelligence claims that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. A 2018 Pulitzer prize was awarded to Washington Post and New York Times journalists for their reporting on what was later to exposed as a false story.

“They were making contacts and bumping Trump people going back to March 2016,” said a committee source. “They were sending people around the UK, Australia, Italy — the Mossad in Italy. MI6 was working at an intelligence school they had set up,” the journalists claim.

Officially, the FBI only started looking into the Trump campaign that summer, after an Australian diplomat reportedly overheard an aide mention Russia. If confirmed, these findings would demonstrate that the US intelligence community had worked for months before that to set up just such a pretext. 

In a statement to the investigative journalists, the FBI said it had made “missteps” in the 2016 and 2017 investigation of the Trump campaign, but has since implemented reforms to prevent it from happening again. 

“The allegations that GCHQ was asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense,” a spokesman for the British surveillance agency said. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” Shellenberger, Taibbi and Gutentag said they had never asked the GCHQ about “wiretapping.”

According to Shellenberger, there is a “10-inch binder” containing previously unknown documents about the intelligence community’s surveillance of the Trump campaign. The 45th US president had ordered these documents declassified, but they went missing instead. In a Fox News appearance on Tuesday evening, Shellenberger suggested the FBI’s August 2022 raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort may have been related to the missing binder.

After the US intelligence community created a pretext for investigating Trump for ‘ties to Russia,’ they spied on his campaign – and then his presidency – using a falsely obtained FISA warrant. The warrant was based on the ‘Steele dossier,’ a file compiled by a British spy in the pay of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, through several intermediaries. The FBI knew the dossier was false as early as January 2017, but continued using the FISA warrant for almost a year thereafter.

The FBI lawyer who altered evidence to obtain the warrant, Kevin Clinesmith, ended up sentenced to probation and his law license has since been restored.